Divine Mercy Sunday

11 April  2010
Deacon Les Ruhrmund

“Jesus I trust in you”

On the Second Sunday of Easter, we celebrate the feast of Divine Mercy established ten years ago by Pope JPII following the canonisation of St Faustina, a Polish nun who died in 1938 at the age of 33.

In his homily on the occasion of her canonisation, Pope JP said:

“It is important then that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this Second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church will be called Divine Mercy Sunday. Christ has taught us that we not only receive and experience the mercy of God, but we are also called to practise mercy towards others. What will the years ahead bring us? What will mankind’s future on earth be like? We are not given to know. However, it is certain that in addition to new progress there will unfortunately be no lack of painful experiences. But the light of divine mercy will light the way for the men and women of the third millennium.”

The message that Jesus gives us through his remarkable presence in the humble life of St Faustina is that we should trust in his mercy which is beyond our understanding.

Faustina recorded in her diary that Jesus said to her:

“My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Let no soul fear to draw near to me, even though its sins be as scarlet.  I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those who approach the fount of my mercy.”

The revelation of Divine Mercy to St Faustina is not a new message from Christ but is a reminder of God’s unconditional love to a world that is increasingly losing its focus. We live in a world that deliberately ignores its God-given vocation; a world in which faith and hope are stifled by greed, disbelief, distrust, uncertainty and fear.  

In the first reading taken from the Acts of the Apostles we get a glimpse of the church in its very earliest development.  The faithful came together at the Temple, their usual place of worship and they shared in faith and confidence the Good News about Jesus – and they were enormously successful and effective. The signs and wonders of the Holy Spirit were evident everywhere.   

This is a far cry from the picture we have of the disciples in the Gospel reading on that first Easter Sunday night; that night they were fearful and in hiding. They trusted no-one. They were confused and afraid; afraid of the Jewish authorities, afraid of the Romans, afraid of the crowds who had bayed like wild animals for Jesus’ blood; afraid that they would be the next victims. Afraid that they had been misled and that their faith, their love, their devotion to Jesus had been a big mistake; afraid of the humiliation and shame that they’d brought upon themselves and their families. Their trust in Jesus was smothered by fear. 

Jesus came and stood among them. He showed them his wounds. The risen Christ is still wounded. His passion and death are not just left behind, as an earlier memory of his life. The risen Lord is simultaneously the crucified-and-risen Lord.  Jesus shares our wounds and we share his victory over death.

“Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.  Receive the Holy Spirit.”

That mission given by Jesus to the disciples on that first Easter remains our mission as disciples and as church in 2010. The Holy Spirit is the same Spirit; the vocation is the same vocation; show all people of all nations how much God loves them through our love for them. The image of Divine Mercy reminds us of the blood and water that flowed from Jesus’ side when he gave his life for us in love on the Cross.  

The heart of Divine Mercy is the prayer Jesus I trust in you.

As disciples and as church, we have to trust Jesus.

The disciples cowering in the upper room had allowed their fears to overcome their trust in Jesus. Without trust in Jesus, we cannot be convincing witnesses to the Gospel. Without that trust we serve our fears and not our faith.  

Fear is such a prevalent feature of our lives. It is often a powerful driver motivating our actions and our relationships. We fear rejection, we fear intimacy, we fear poverty, we fear sickness and pain; we fear failure, aging, violence, cruelty, death. We fear for the wellbeing of those we love most and we fear for ourselves. We fear dependency on others and dependency on God.

It is often the fear of being hurt that stops us from loving more than we do. Thomas was hurting badly after the crucifixion and he rejected the consolation of his friends preferring to be alone. He also rejected the news of the Resurrection of Jesus – perhaps because he’d loved him so deeply that he dared not even hope to see him again. But he did see him again and putting his trust in Jesus, legend has it that it was Thomas who first took Christianity to India where he served Christ with great devotion and zeal.

From the Gospels we know that faith was never an easy thing for Thomas as it is often not easy for us. But hopefully with the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist to strengthen and encourage us; and showered with the grace of Divine Mercy, we too will serve our Lord and each other confident in the Resurrection and confident in Christ’s mercy.

Jesus, I trust in you! This simple prayer of faith is a gift that gives us the power and the courage to love God and to love each other. It is a prayer that we can say throughout the day in every situation throughout our lives. It gives us strength in our struggles and comfort in our suffering; it brings peace into a fearful world.  

Jesus promised that much grace will flow wherever the Image of Divine Mercy is exposed and venerated. Tonight we venerate the image of our Lord’s Divine Mercy and profess humbly “My Lord and my God. Jesus I trust in you.”

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